I was a boy chorister at a church on the near South Side of Chicago from the time I was ten until the choir disbanded when I was thirteen (1965- 1967). Grew up in the farther northwest suburbs: that meant that I often had to take a commuter train downtown, then either walk or utilize buses or subways to navigate the last three or so miles. The little darlings who attended my grade school rarely were allowed outside of our (then) lily white suburb, but I always felt more at home in the city. Hated the burbs then- but I especially hated the "we moved out here for the kids" mentality that so many parents mouthed. I didn't want to be sheltered or protected from life. I wanted to embrace it. That my mother allowed be to travel down to the Loop on my own scandalized a number of neighbors and even my aunt, but I think that it was a good thing. It taught me to exercise a lot of common sense at an early age- avoiding people and areas that didn't look "right," etc. I got to know my way around downtown Chicago better than my own suburb in short order, and pretty soon my adventurous side had me riding all of the subway and L lines. By the time I turned 11, I had ridden the entire system, solo. One of my favorite stunts after a rehearsal that ended around 6 PM was to ride the 50- plus year old cars on the Evanston Express up to Wilmette.. then trek back to the commuter station and not arrive home until after nine PM. My mom would ask what happened: I never lied. I'd tell her that I'd missed my train (didn't mention that I'd missed it intentionally, and she never asked). Finally fessed up to all of this when I was in my 20's and she only sighed, "Glad you didn't tell me then." My other pastime after summer weekday morning rehearsals was to hang around courtrooms and watch trials. To me, watching a good cross examination of a witness was more fun than watching a major leaguer pitch a no hitter. That planted the seed for my later career as a trial lawyer. I've often thought that becoming a subway/ L motorman ("operator") might have been a lot more fun, and likely could have paid better.... but I suppose I'll never know. I suppose that I learned to master a lot more than Fifteenth Century polyphony and Gregorian chant from those years as a second soprano. I learned to handle being in situations where kids were not usually expected. (Not "unwelcomed," as in a tavern: just not anticipated. ) I learned to go into a restaurant, order a meal, and leave a 15% tip at a time in life when other kids were trying to handle counting out change for the Good Humor man. I learned to enter a store, be polite, and not annoy the sales staff as a pesky kid. I remember one sweet older lady gently chiding me for being too mature: "You should be a kid. Not an adult!" Well, I cared less for kids then than I do now. My peers in school were, for the most part, an annoyance: I'd rather talk to adults about "the good old days" (the Depression, World War II, even the Roaring 20's) than talk with other kids. Irony is, as a parent, I practiced the same sheltering instinct that I scoffed as a kid when my own boys were pre- teen. The sad part is that the dangers to kids are not only in "the bad parts of the city." They're in the most affluent suburbs and small towns as well. The best way to protect a kid is to try to impart common sense and street smarts.. and that is much easier said than done. I think that it was then as well, but even more so now.